Unconfirmed word out of China this week has been that Middle Kingdom gatekeepers have put restrictions on Korean entertainment and entertainers, purportedly in response to Korea’s decision to deploy the THAAD anti-missile defense system. But Korea’s Yonhap news agency today reported that at least one South Korean actor’s reps have denied claims he was shut out of China.
Per Yonhap, Lee Joon-gi’s agency said that the actor, who has a large China following, was issued a visa and is scheduled to visit four mainland cities beginning Sunday on a promotional tour for his latest film Never Said Goodbye, which is due for release later this month.
An official from Namoo Actors told Yonhap, “Lee was properly issued the Chinese visa and will be off to China as planned.”
Korean dramas and films are immensely popular in China with local feature remakes recently having included 2014’s Miss Granny which was made as 20 Once Again in 2015 starring Lu Han, who ultimately became the official Star Wars ambassador in China.
With regard to another actor, local reports say Song Joong Ki has not faced a ban. Rumors surfaced that an $8M offer for a Chinese drama made to Song was recently canceled due to the tense political situation. But on Thursday, one of his reps told AllKPop, “He did receive many offers for Chinese dramas and movies, but nothing was confirmed. Therefore, the word cancellation does not make sense in this situation.”
A report was said to have surfaced on China Central Television on Thursday which appeared to confirm the banning of Korean TV shows effective September 1, but reports also suggested skepticism around its veracity.
At least one fan meet-and-greet for Korean stars has reportedly been canceled, however: Yonhap said yesterday that Kim Woo-bin and Bae Suzy were scheduled to hold a fan interaction in China on Saturday, but organizers canceled it for “reasons out of their control,” a source at production company Samhwa Networks said. The duo stars in the KBS drama Uncontrollably Fond which airs on Youku in China.
Meanwhile, sources at TV stations in Guangdong province told the South China Morning Post they had received orders from China’s national media watchdog that new approvals for programs featuring South Korean pop stars would not be granted in the near future.
“They told us to postpone any plans for new programs that involve South Korean stars or copyright for South Korean TV shows,” one source said. “They said we would not get approval, even if we made such plans.” The order was reportedly passed along verbally by SAPPRFT.